PostHeaderIcon ASEAN, Partners Agree to Boost Intelligence Sharing

Foreign ministers of the ASEAN Regional Forum in a meeting in the Lao capital of Vientiane noted that "effective information and intelligence exchange" among states was essential in efforts against terrorism. "Terrorism and other transnational crimes pose significant threats to the peace, order and security of our countries and our peoples," the ARF ministers said in a statement. They agreed to share intelligence information bilaterally and multilaterally through a systematic manner in going after terrorist groups and transnational crime syndicates. Law enforcement cooperation among ARF members would also be strengthened through existing networks, such as Interpol, and "adequate national protections" for sensitive information would be assured. Efforts would also be carried out to make national documents fraud-resistant based on agreed standards to contain biometric identifiers, the ministers said. They did not specify what biometric measures they had in mind, but in general the term refers to technologies such as fingerprint recognition and iris scanning. "The integrity and security of national identity, travel and other documents is a vital contribution to ensuring the security of our citizens and to identifying, apprehending and prosecuting terrorists and other offenders," the ARF ministers said. ARF links the 10 ASEAN countries of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam with 14 other Asia-Pacific states and the European Union. Many of its members like Indonesia and the Philippines have been victims of massive attacks from Al-Qaeda-linked militants seeking to set up a regional Muslim caliphate. Experts say these militants easily pass through borders using fake documents to plot devastating attacks. jvg/ph